Students in south Edmonton watched Monday as two pedestrians were struck by a distracted driver in a parking lot during the lunch hour.
It was a simulated crash scene, but while the collision wasn’t actually real, it did show just how real the consequences can be when it comes to texting and driving.
“Just being in the car, the tears that I cried were real,” said student Katy Fleming, who played the student behind the wheels in the simulated crash.
“I felt like it was a real experience, like I had actually hit someone and it was absolutely scary.”
The scenario involved a teenager, Fleming, driving distracted when she hit two pedestrians in a busy parking lot outside J. Percy Page and Holy Trinity high schools.
Emergency crews quickly arrived on scene, drawing a crowd of curious high school students.
One student suffered a broken leg and spinal injuries while the other, a mannequin, suffered a serious pelvic fracture.
These simulated injuries were meant to drive the message home that distracted driving can be dangerous and deadly.
“It all really looked real,” said student Selma Halilic. “You could see how serious it is with all the ambulances and all the police.”
Alberta Health Services says drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a collision than other drivers.
Research also shows about 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction.
“You can be involved in a collision that may result in anything from minor injuries up to and including death,” said Melissa Edwards with Alberta Emergency Medical Services.
“They need to pay attention while they’re driving. Don’t text, don’t eat, don’t do your make-up, pay attention to the road.”
The distracted driving law went into effect in Alberta nearly two years ago but Edmonton police say drivers still aren’t getting the message.
Police say they’ve handed out thousands of distracted driving tickets so far this year alone.
Fleming admits she has been guilty of texting and driving before, but after being involved in the mock crash, including being ‘arrested’ for texting and driving causing harm, she says she won’t do it again.
“It’s a really stupid decision,” Fleming said.
“It’s super dangerous and it can cause so many accidents.”
Adrianna Mairs, who played one of the injured pedestrians, said the mock collision made her and classmates realize the dangers of distracted driving.
“I definitely think that after today they’ll realize it can happen to everyone and they should be more careful because it could happen to their closest friend,” Mairs said.
“Life is so important and we’re letting this small device consume all of our time. I just think life is more important than whatever is on your iPhone or Blackberry, it can wait until you’re done driving.”
With files from Carmen Leibel